Archive for the ‘Birthday’ Category

Disney Talk – Lucky Duck

June 9, 2009
Image © Disney.

Donald Duck is celebrating his 75th birthday, and has made quite a lot of friends since 1934.

By Blake

Originally posted June 9, 2009.

A classic scene-stealer since his debut in the 1934 Silly Symphony cartoon The Wise Little Hen, Donald Duck was given special treatment by Disney animators in his early years. After Donald repeatedly proved to be much more than a sidekick in his recurring role in several Mickey Mouse cartoons, he soon earned his own individual series of cartoons. The first of those shorts was 1937’s Don Donald (which was also Daisy’s first appearance), which made Donald the first Disney character other than Mickey Mouse to have his own cartoon series (Goofy and Pluto later followed).

Donald’s 75th birthday is today, Tuesday, June 9, 2009. D23, the official Disney fan club, seems to be the only branch of the Walt Disney Company that’s commemorating Donald’s special day, but they’re doing so in fine fashion. Donald made the cover of the summer issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, and inside was a special Donald-themed feature article tracing the duck’s expansive and fascinating history. D23 members can also submit art of Donald by June 15 that could be chosen to become his official 75th birthday portrait, making the winning member Donald’s official portrait artist.

Donald was on the cover of the summer 2009 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine. Image © Disney.

Additionally, the D23 website has been showing a classic Donald cartoon each week in what they’re calling “Duck Season.” This week’s pick is the 1940 cartoon Fire Chief, as selected by Dave Smith, Chief Archivist of the Walt Disney Archives. Previous choices in Duck Season have included Chef Donald, Truant Officer Donald, and Donald’s Snow Fight. This is a really great opportunity to see some classic Donald misadventures.

Lastly, a commemorative article celebrating Donald’s 75th birthday was posted earlier today on D23’s website. D23 has done an excellent job at celebrating a Disney milestone that might not have been noted otherwise, as no other official recognition by Disney has been given of Donald’s birthday this year other than the D23 happenings.

To throw in my congratulations to Donald for 75 years of quackiness, I thought I’d list some of Donald’s closest friends and the relationships he’s made with them over the years.

Mickey Mouse

Donald has wanted to take the spotlight from Mickey Mouse ever since their first appearance together in 1934’s Orphan’s Benefit. Although in reality Donald has actually succeeded Mickey in popularity (especially during the time of his cartoon shorts in the 1940’s and 1950’s), it seems that no one’s told Donald that! He’s continued to want the attention put on him instead of Mickey, especially when it comes to The Mickey Mouse Club. However, when it comes down to it, Mickey and Donald are really good friends. Even though Donald repeatedly messes up situations for Mickey, Mickey always seems to come through with the patience and forgiveness needed for the two to remain friends.

Donald disrupted Mickey’s band performance in 1935’s The Band Concert. Image © Disney.

Minnie Mouse

Throughout the course of Donald’s 75 years, audiences haven’t seen much interaction between Minnie and Donald. When we do, it usually involves Minnie warning Donald not to do something, and of course then results in Donald not listening and doing just what Minnie said not to do, as in the live show Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration (now closed) at Walt Disney World. Additionally, Minnie tends to give Donald encouragement every now and then, such as in Dream Along with Mickey, which is now performing at the Magic Kingdom. Even though Donald may not realize it that often, Minnie is a good friend that’s always there for him.


Goofy’s antics are enough to drive anyone . . . well, goofy. Even Mickey, one of Hollywood’s most patient actors, sometimes gets annoyed by Goofy’s clumsiness, as seen in the TV show House of Mouse. However, while Mickey might try to rationalize with Goofy and talk things through to resolve a situation, Donald just downright gets mad. And the audience loves it. There were even several “Donald & Goofy” cartoons that were released in the 1940’s because the pair worked so well together cinematically. Goofy is sometimes oblivious to the problems he creates, and that’s what makes him so lovable, and even Donald is there to lend the goof a helping hand when needed.

Donald is featured along with some of his friends (including Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey, featured here from left) in the TV show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney. Image © Disney.


Pluto is actually a lot like Donald, often getting frustrated about situations that he can’t control. However, since Pluto is a genuine dog and doesn’t fully understand quite what’s going on sometimes, instead of having a tantrum like Donald does, he shows curiosity to take matters into his own paws and solve problems himself. It seems fitting that two similar characters would work so well in scenes together, and the Disney animators seemed to know it. In the 1935 cartoon On Ice, Donald puts a set of ice skates on poor Pluto while the dog is sleeping, resulting in a surprise for Pluto when he wakes up. The pair was later put together in the 1936 cartoon Donald and Pluto in another great story and again in the 1939 short Beach Picnic. Both displaying their tempers often (though Pluto’s is far tamer than Donald’s), the two of them have delivered a hoopla of entertaining stories for audiences.

Daisy Duck

The apple of Donald’s eye, Daisy first appeared in the first-ever official “Donald Duck” cartoon, 1937’s Don Donald. Originally her voice was the same as Donald’s, though she soon got a distinctive female voice. It’s appropriate that Daisy would be drawn to Donald’s befuddled personality, as she often displays a temper herself. Even though she constantly is warning Donald to stay calm, sometimes she joins him in flaring her anger, making the two great for each other.

Daisy Duck is Donald’s girlfriend. Image © Disney.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie

Donald’s nephews (the sons of his sister Dumbella), Huey, Dewey, and Louie with their energetic personalities and rambunctious mischief get Donald almost every time. The boys are experts at pulling pranks on their uncle, and often succeed at tricking Donald and causing him to explode in frustration. Like Daisy, the trio once had the same voice as Donald. However, when they began to headline their own TV series along with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck (but without Donald) in 1987 – 1990’s DuckTales, the boys got their own voice, which was provided by Russi Taylor, who is also the voice of Minnie Mouse. (Huey, Dewey, and Louie all collectively sounded the same, but now sounded different than Donald). In the 1996 TV show Quack Pack, the boys had matured to teenagers (where they got another voice change) and tagged along as Donald and Daisy reported news for a TV station. Since 1999, the boys-to-teenagers transition has been on and off, though we mostly now see Huey, Dewey, and Louie in their younger stage. Whatever their age, they almost always jump at the chance to prank their “Unca Donald,” though also know when the make things right and apologize when they’ve gone too far.

Chip and Dale

Another group that frustrates Donald, Chip and Dale often annoy him without even realizing it. Usually they’re just trying to get back what Donald has mistakenly taken from them. However, once each side knows they’ve angered the other, there’s no stopping them. Chip and Dale usually get the best of Donald in the end, much to their satisfaction.

Scrooge McDuck

Donald doesn’t quite understand his Uncle Scrooge’s love for money, but that doesn’t bother Scrooge. Scrooge seems to have grown humbler as he’s progressed in TV shows and movies over the years, and because of this he’s been able to put up with Donald’s tantrums. After all, Scrooge has had experience with Donald’s mother (Scrooge’s sister), Hortense, who had quite the temper of her own.

His Fellow Caballeros

Donald is one of the “Three Caballeros,” a group of birds that were featured in a “self-titled” Disney film of the same name in 1945. The other caballeros are Jose Carioca from Brazil and Panchito from Mexico. Donald has a sense of belonging to the group, and seldom misbehaves around them. The three later went on to appear together on an episode of House of Mouse, and again in an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot called Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros.

Donald is a member of the Three Caballeros. From left: Donald, Panchito, and Jose. Image © Disney.

Although Donald has displayed many instances of flaring anger throughout his 75 years, he’s also been adored by audiences for his witty, persistent personality that’s been conveyed not only by himself, but also with the help of some of his beloved co-stars.

If you get the chance, head on over to the D23 website to catch some of those classic Donald shorts, or view one of Donald’s Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets to get a glimpse of his timeless career.

Happy 75th birthday, Donald Duck! Now I’m off to watch a Mickey cartoon. Just kidding . . . there’s no need to throw a fit. 😉

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By Blake Taylor; posted June 9, 2009. All images © Disney.


Theme Park Headlines – Busy Birthday

October 2, 2007

How did Walt Disney World celebrate its very busy 36th birthday weekend? Special events, Halloween festivities, re-dedication ceremonies, and some very special announcements are among the highlights.

By Blake
Originally posted October 2, 2007.
A large patch of Florida orange groves that had been transformed into a magnificent vacation kingdom were officially unveiled to the public on October 1, 1971. In its 36 years of operation, this particular vacation kingdom has secured its place as #1 vacation destination in the world. Yeah – wow.
And this past weekend, that vacation kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, celebrated its 36th birthday by having no official recognition of the historic date. However, there was barely enough time to squeeze in anything else to this weekend’s jam-packed agenda because even though there was no real birthday party for WDW, there were several major special events that one might have experienced if they happened to be visiting the World last Friday through Monday.

First off, last week saw the premiere of “High School Musical 2 Pep Rally: School’s Out”, the follow-up to the successful mobile stage show at Disney-MGM Studios. Now the show features music from the newest addition to the ever-popular High School Musical franchise.
Friday, the Magic Kingdom hosted its 3rd Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party of the year (its first party night was Sept. 14). This special event, which requires a pricey extra party ticket, happens about a little over a dozen nights each year and boasts a special Halloween fireworks display (“Hallowishes”), a Disney Halloween parade (“Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade”), a stage show starring the Disney villains (“Villains Mix & Mingle”), trick-or-treat candy stations, and special Disney character appearances (with almost all characters dressed in their Halloween attire). Many of the Magic Kingdom’s major attractions are open, also. This year’s party is not majorly any different than last year’s, the most significant additions being Pooh and friends earning new Halloween outfits, a new Tick Tock Crocodile float in the parade, and the first-ever Disney park appearance of Captain Barbossa, from Pirates of the Caribbean, who makes his grand debut in the parade (sorry, no meet n greets!).
Friday also was the kick-off for this year’s Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. Future World is decorated this year to a Ratatouille theme, with topiaries and photo-ops featuring characters from the newest Pixar film all throughout the area. It is currently unknown whether or not Remy and Emile will begin doing meet n greets here to highlight the festival. Over in the World Showcase area of the park, each country pavilion offers unique food and beverages to celebrate the festival and a special concert series takes place at the American Gardens Theatre in the U.S.A. pavilion.
Saturday, the place to be was Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as an after-hours special event (for WDW Annual Passholders only) took place. Although I’m not a WDW AP, and although I didn’t attend this event, it seems from reports I’ve read that it featured ultra-rare meet & greet appearances by Mowgli and Colonel Hathi from The Jungle Book, as well as the not-so-rare Baloo and King Louie.
With the arrival of Sunday came Little Ones Extra Magic Hour, an event that only takes place in the Magic Kingdom on Sundays in September and October. On these select dates, MK’s Fantasyland is open to families with children in the 5 & under range one hour before the rest of the park opens. All Fantasyland attractions are open during this time with little or no wait and MANY characters are present, but not for meet n greets or photo ops – their main purpose here is to play games with the kids.
Also on Sunday was another Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and this particular party night was no ordinary one. For the first time EVER, the party’s “Boo to You” parade music was officially put out for sale to the public. The new “Magic Kingdom Event Party Music” CD not only features the Halloween parade music, but also music from the Halloween fireworks, the Pirate & Princess Party’s parade and fireworks, the Villains Mix n Mingle Halloween stage show, and the Dream Along with Mickey daily stage show. And word is the copies are going out fast!
On Monday, the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground all celebrated their 36th birthdays; while Epcot celebrated its 25th. Although MK and the resorts were not recognized on their special day, Epcot was. Originally Disney was going to not pay any attention to the park’s silver anniversary, but (once again, as with the Halloween CD) Disney responded to its fans’ requests and on Monday a ceremony was held at Epcot’s Fountain of Nations at 10:01am, EXACTLY 25 years (to the minute!) of its original opening day ceremony. (Get it? 10:01 . . . October 1 . . . 10-01.)
Also in honor of the park’s 25th anniversary, the Mickey wand that adorned Spaceship Earth (the “giant golf ball”) was recently taken down before being abruptly smashed into a gajillion pieces in the Epcot parking lot. But the point is, it’s been removed. Many Disney fans celebrated at the announcement of its removal, but personally I liked it. 😉 Now fans are asking that the Leave a Legacy tiles in the Epcot entrance plaza, that some say look somewhat like tombstones, be taken down.
As if that weren’t enough for this busy weekend, Monday also saw the arrival of a major announcement from Disney – the Year of a Million Dreams celebration (originally planned to last through the end of 2007) has been extended through the end of 2008. So now it should really be called 2 Years of 2 Million Dreams (but it isn’t, it’s sticking to the same name). Although this has been known for quite some time, Disney didn’t officially announce the details of the extension until yesterday. And with the announcement came plans for some of this year’s really special dreams being granted.

Again, Disney is granting a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite (above) to one lucky family each day, but they’re also giving away some new prizes. Some of these include spending the night in a private yacht and having Disney’s Castaway Cay private island all to yourself (Disney Cruise Line visits this island every cruise), walking the red carpet and experiencing VIP treatment at the world premiere of High School Musical 3 in fall 2008, flying high above Epcot in a newly-created hot air balloon, having dinner onboard a private submarine at Disneyland and then enjoying a private ride on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, being an Imagineer Apprentice by looking over the shoulders of a Disney Imagineer for an entire day, making a special appearance in Walt Disney World’s Christmas Day Parade (which is broadcast annually on ABC), or (this one’s my favorite!!!) you could even win the world’s biggest character breakfast EVER, with nearly every Disney character imaginable dining with you before the Magic Kingdom opens, on a table that extends down the length of Main Street U.S.A. Is that cool or what?!?!?!?!?!?
Additionally, a new Disneyland Dream Suite is being created at Disneyland in California, which will allow one lucky granted family each night a view of the New Orleans Square area of the theme park.

Sooooo . . . I’d say it was a pretty exciting birthday weekend for WDW this year, wouldn’t you? 😉

By Blake; originally posted October 2, 2007. All images (C) Disney.